The correlation between phase shifts in gradient-echo MR images and regional brain iron concentration
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The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between the magnetic susceptibility of brain tissue and iron concentration. Phase shifts in gradient-echo images (TE = 60 ms) were measured in 21 human subjects, (age 0.7-45 years) and compared with published values of regional brain iron concentration. Phase was correlated with brain iron concentration in putamen (R2 = 0.76), caudate (0.72), motor cortex (0.68), globus pallidus (0.59) (all p < 0.001), and frontal cortex (R2 = 0.19, p = 0.05), but not in white matter (R2 = 0.05,p = 0.34). The slope of the regression (degrees/mg iron/g tissue wet weight) varied over a narrow range from -1.2 in the globus pallidus and frontal cortex to -2.1 in the caudate. These results suggest that magnetic resonance phase reflects iron-induced differences in brain tissue susceptibility in gray matter. The lack of correlation in white matter may reflect important differences between gray and white matter in the cellular distribution and the metabolic functions of iron. Magnetic resonance phase images provide insight into the magnetic state of brain tissue and may prove to be useful in elucidating the relationship between brain iron and tissue relaxation properties.
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